Just when you thought the saga of the tragic shooting of Breonna Taylor was coming to a close there’s yet another development. This time it involves the same group of officers who conducted the raid on Taylor’s apartment leading to her death. Two of the officers who were not charged with anything directly related to her death following the grand jury investigation have now been informed that they will be losing their jobs barring some change in plans following a pre-termination hearing. (Not a very nice Christmas present.) There may indeed be grounds for dismissal for one of them, while the other dismissal appears a bit more dubious. (NBC News)
The Louisville, Kentucky, officer who obtained the no-knock warrant and the officer who fired the fatal bullet in the raid of the home of Breonna Taylor both received notice on Tuesday that the police department intends to fire them.
Det. Joshua Jaynes was informed that the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department intends to terminate his employment, a department spokesperson confirmed to NBC News, and a lawyer for Det. Myles Cosgrove confirmed he received a letter of termination from the department.
Officers still have the right to a pre-termination hearing before the are officially fired, the spokesperson said.
Detective Joshua Jaynes is the officer who obtained the no-knock warrant from a judge for the raid on Taylor’s apartment. Detective Myles Cosgrove is the officer who was determined to have fired the fatal shot that ended Taylor’s life.
As I mentioned above, there is at least one legitimate complaint regarding Jaynes, but whether it rises to the level of warranting a dismissal is questionable at best. Apparently, when Jaynes filed for the warrant, he included a sworn statement that he had “verified through a U.S. Postal Inspector” that Jamarcus Glover (Taylor’s former boyfriend and the primary subject of the multiple raids that took place that night) had been receiving packages through the mail at Taylor’s address. As it turns out, there was no record of Jaynes actually speaking to a postal inspector. He had actually verified the information through other police officials.
Granted, entering sworn testimony that is inaccurate carries penalties. But in this case, did it really matter? The real question is whether or not the information presented to the judge was accurate. Glover himself had been recorded saying that he sent packages to Taylor’s apartment and that she sometimes “held money” for him, supposedly in excess of $10,000. We have no way of knowing whether that drug dealer was telling the truth or not, but when you’re getting the information directly from the horse’s mouth, that seems like a fair basis to request the warrant. Without some significant previous history of filing false statements or other serious malfeasance, firing Jaynes seems excessive to say the least.
As for Myles Cosgrove, we’ve yet to hear anything about his part in these events that violated any rules. He was operating under a warrant from a judge. When the door to Taylor’s apartment was forced open, he and his fellow officers immediately came under gunfire from the darkened hallway of the apartment. One officer was struck and Cosgrove returned fire. The fact that Taylor, who had not fired the shot, was killed in the exchange was a tragic accident, but that’s all it was. What is the justification for firing Cosgrove now after all this time?
The attorney for one of the officers told reporters that he believes “they’re looking for people to throw under the bus.” That sounds about right. The city has been rocked with crippling riots since word of Taylor’s shooting went viral. The people tearing down the city were demanding that the officers be charged with murder and those calls continued even after the grand jury found no wrongdoing on the part of the police officers involved in the raid. From all appearances, this is a misguided effort to throw a bone to the mobs in the streets at the expense of these two officers. But firing them without any charges being filed is almost certainly not going to be enough to satisfy the protesters and quell the unrest. It’s just going to wreck the careers of two police officers who were trying to do their jobs.
The pre-termination hearing may offer the opportunity to turn this decision around, assuming that the attorneys for the two men can offer a compelling defense. Given the way Louisville has handled this whole debacle from the beginning, don’t be surprised if they try to split the loaf and wind up firing Jaynes and keeping Cosgrove on the force. And that’s an outcome that will definitely satisfy nobody.